The ten strategic partner of the EU are unequal in size, power, status and resource endowments. No clear criteria for selection of an SP can be identified. Given the diverging interests and positions of the “special ten”, SPs may not have great potential in enabling the EU to deepen cooperation on multilateralism with the big rising powers. But they can be useful as bilateral foreign policy tools across a larger number of partner states. The widening or deepening of SPs will decide if the EU’s partners benefit from a special treatment or if they are instrumental in shaping its own collective profile on the global stage.